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Reading a new Amos Walker adventure is like settling down and listening to an old, reliably entertaining friend. In this 17th book in the series (after 2003's Poison Blonde), Beryl Garnet, a dying madam, summons the Detroit detective to find her long-missing son, Delwayne, to whom she wishes to leave her ashes. Since Delwayne fled to Canada during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Amos gets a Canadian counterpart to trace him. Soon after Amos meets the son, he winds up dead, and Amos becomes the main suspect in his shooting death. Amos later discovers that Delwayne's dad, a talented black boxer, was murdered in the 1940s—and a single gun killed both father and son. A sucker for damsels in distress, Amos encounters more than one as he digs down into the muck for the real murderer. Estleman keeps Walker determinedly low-tech: he goes to the library, pores over records and does his own legwork. He riffs on the city and gently ribs Canadian culture across the river. Why does Amos drive to Toronto? It's a chance for him to smuggle back a box of alleged Cuban cigars, a longstanding Motor City tradition. In the process of setting things right, Amos has to let go of some old and new attachments, leaving the reader eager for more.
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When time ran out on legendary Detroit madam Beryl Garnet, PI Amos Walker, a longtime acquaintance of Garnet, was asked to deliver her ashes to her son. The only problem was that the son, Delwayne, a Vietnam protestor implicated in a botched bomb plot, had been underground for 30 years. Walker finds Delwayne easily enough, but moments after meeting with him, he is murdered, and Walker becomes the prime suspect. Walker investigates to clear himself and learns the gun that killed Delwayne was the same gun used to kill his biological father in a celebrated but unsolved Motor City case 50 years earlier. The Walker novels are set in the present but are themselves thoroughly retro in style: a black-and-white Detroit, drifting plumes of smoke, whiskey bottles in desk drawers. The dialogue is unadulterated Bogie, and the first-person narration is as cynically world weary as it can be. It feels at times like Walker is living in an alternate twenty-first-century world, but for fans of old-school tough guys, it's a much better world. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved